Month: November 2009

kiwitravelwriter loves local films – esp this eco one

native clematis
Native Clematis flowers in the Seaward Kaikaora mountian ranges

I took this photo when hiking NZ’s highest guided walk – Kaikoura Wilderness Walks, Shearwater Lodge. Nov: 2009 I will be bloging about it soon


I have to let you know about another great NZ film by one of my local NZ Society of Authors branch members. ( I am the local chairperson so get bragging rights)

Kathleen Gallagher’s latest film Earth Whisperers/Papatuanuku was shot at spectacular locations around New Zealand by acclaimed cameramen Alun Bollinger and Mike Single. This absorbing feature documentary focuses on 10 visionary New Zealanders out to prove that a shift in consciousness can heal our environment. You’ll be inspired, and never look at stinging nettle in your garden in quite the same way again!

In the words of Nick Smith – NZ Minister for Environment and Climate Change:

‘This inspirational film weaves together NZ”s stunning landscapes, eclectic characters and unique

sounds in a poetic message of protection for Planet Earth .’

This is a movie that doesn’t just rock the boat — it rocks the world!

Check out the link above to see a trailer of the movie and hear Kathleen too.

kiwitravelwriter sends congratulations to Richie McCaw “best rugby player on the planet”

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said he was “humbled” to be named the best rugby player on the planet for the second time in his career.

The 28-year-old New Zealand openside picked up the IRB’s prestigious Player of the Year award straight after leading his side to a comprehensive 39-12 victory over France at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille today.

He joined Ireland’s Declan Kidney (coach of the year) and the Springboks (team of the year) in picking up the three major senior awards announced by the IRB on the final weekend of the official autumn season in the north.

McCaw also won the player of the year gong in 2006 and is now the first player ever to have picked it up a second time. Read more here and in the ‘rugby” categories on this blog .

NOTE: Richie is also a big part of our local Canterbury team, and yes I am a one -eyed, red & black wearing Cantabrian

I need to loose weight … so doing it in public

I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes!

This means I need to get healthier and loose weight so have decided to blog about it .. ‘they’ tell me I’m as sick as my secrets so will let it all hang out so to speak, and hope that reporting on my successes and failures online will keep me on the straight and narrow.

Sign up to follow and support me here — my blogspot blog.

Kiwitravelwriter goes hiking in the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains

NOTE 2011 update:  the FIRST Hutton’s Shearwater Farewell is on the 3rd April at 7.00 am on the  Kaikoura peninsula

A small collection of photos of my time in the NZ Southern Alps (November 2009) hiking with the unique Kaikoura Wilderness Walks,  and the fabulous Shearwater Lodge.

This is just a little taster — watch for stories, blogs and articles of my time in these mountains. See more here too



we spend time watching and listening to kea





























































































sunrise from the lodge

YAY - down one more valley then up to Shearwater Lodge

native clematis

Looking up to the endangered shearwater colony high in the mountains

Middle earth again … The Hobbit

Gandalf itching to return to Middle Earth

11 Nov 2009 ( this from a press release – not written by the kiwitravelwriter .. however, read here what she says about a Lord of the Rings Tour)

Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, is itching to revisit Middle Earth after reading the script for the first of ‘The Hobbit’ films.

It’s been over a decade since McKellen donned Gandalf’s robes on the ‘Lord of the Rings’ set in New Zealand.

And, while he’s sworn to secrecy over ‘The Hobbit’ script, the veteran British actor says the part has his name on it and he’s longing for production to get underway.

To be directed by Guillermo del Toro, the script for ‘The Hobbit’ movies has been co-written by New Zealand producer Peter Jackson with long-time ‘Lord of the Rings’ collaborators Fran Walsh and Phillippa Boyens – and McKellen says it’s very attractive that the Gandalf part has been written specifically for him.

“As Peter has said, they loved writing Gandalf for ‘The Hobbit’ because they knew who they were writing him for. The other Gandalf was written for, well, just as Gandalf. There’s lots for me to enjoy, in all sorts of ways. And I couldn’t be happier. But I’m sworn to secrecy. I’m not to say anything at all about the script,” he said.

Unexpected Hobbit script
McKellen said he hadn’t been expecting to receive any pages of ‘The Hobbit’ but the script arrived out of the blue.

“I was sitting in London and a courier arrived from New Zealand, which is the other side of the world, bearing the script of ‘The Hobbit,'” he said.

“It was tied around with so much Scotch tape that even with two pairs of scissors, I only got into it half an hour later.”

He said the script had his name on every page with a warning that each page was encrypted, so if it appeared on the internet, it could be traced back to him.

“And I’m not to discuss it with anyone, any colleague, or friend, or family member or pet. I may not write in the script, I may not remove it from its plastic folder, and when it is taken from me by the courier, it will be shredded under supervision,” he said.

Production details
Although he has read the script, McKellen hasn’t yet been signed and details of ‘The Hobbit’ production are still sketchy.

‘The Hobbit’ story will be told in two films to be shot back-to-back with a predicted budget of NZ$474 million. New Zealand-based fan website reports that the first six months of filming in 2010 will take place in the studio.

Work has begun at Hobbiton near the North Island town of Matamata with hobbit holes and hedgerows appearing on the farm site.

Scouts looking for filming locations have also been reported in New Zealand’s South Island, and it is rumoured that a creative team is already hard at work on visuals for the two movies.

Although it is thought that other actors have seen the scripts, McKellen is the only one to have spoken publicly.

“Gandalf is a fantastic part and I long to do it,” McKellen said. Both he and Peter Jackson preferred the earlier Gandalf the Grey version to his later, post-resurrection incarnation, he said.

“He was more humane somehow. He was the guy who liked to hang out with the hobbits and drink too much and smoke too much.”

20-plus takes
McKellen said he didn’t, however, always prefer the 20-plus takes Jackson often required on set to get a scene exactly as he wanted, and he wondered if Guillermo del Toro might spare his actors such lengthy repetition.

“A slight shiver went through me just then,” he said (smiling), “because I thought perhaps Guillermo might be a little quicker than Peter, but maybe he won’t be. He’s a bit of a perfectionist. But this script plays very much to his strengths and I can see where he’s put his mark already on the script.”

Although sworn to secrecy, McKellen promised a resemblance between ‘LOTR’ and ‘The Hobbit’ in both look and feel.

“Peter Jackson is still a hands-on producer,” he said. “Guillermo del Toro comes in not as a wild card but very much respecting it all.”

Jackson and del Toro
Jackson and del Toro speak the same language, McKellen said.

“They are the same person. They were separated at birth. They’re twins. They have the same attitude. Neither likes working in Hollywood. They’re both brilliant storytellers in very much the same way,” said McKellen.

“And I think the script, because I have read it, plays very much to Guillermo’s strengths, as I’ve seen them. I have seen his other movies, and people act very well in them. So I think it’s all fine. And Peter will always be there,” McKellen said.

McKellen said that the role of Gandalf changed his life forever. “I can’t believe it’s 10 years for me,” said the actor, who first played the wizard in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – film one in the trilogy that began principal photography in New Zealand in 1999.

“I remember being told by a friend in Hollywood that ‘your life is going to change,’ and it has. Gandalf is an extremely famous character, and I quite like having him around the corner. He’s very popular.”

More information:

The Hobbit moves into Wellington

Hobbit fans eye up Middle Earth

Builders start work on Hobbiton

Kiwitravelwriter takes a Lord of the Rings tours

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2010 book  says (pg35)  “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and last time we checked the land of Maori and hobbits certainly didn’t need repairing. Once again New Zealand has been put in the top ten countries which you ‘ought to put on your agenda in 2010”

Having Middle-earth right on my doorstep, it seemed I too needed to drop in on the land of the hobbits and check out the Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour ( to see what all the fuss is about.web i want to be in the cast

And here, I have to confess: until this trip I was a LotR virgin! True. As shocking as that may seem to some, I have not read the books nor seen the movies – it was almost a shameful secret – but now I know a little and I’m willing to share it with you. And, it seems these tours deep into Middle-earth are becoming more and more popular as time goes by.

The tour starts in Christchurch, and shortly after I was picked up in Cathedral Square, Rex, the driver and guide for the day, pointed out the school attended by the teenage murderers depicted in Heavenly Creatures

NZ has a great tradition of great movie making – The American Film Institute has called the New Zealand film industry “one of the wonders of the world… an unparalleled success story” see more here

It was appropriate to point out the school and site for some  of the shots used in the movie as that too was one of Peter Jacksons great pictures and Kate Winslet started her career in Heavenly Creatures:

As we drove out we watch a DVD about ‘the quest for the ring’ which gave someone like me a background to the day and the film. I also learnt Tolkien was born in South Africa ( to English parents) and that, as well as having to create a road to get to ‘Edoras’  and  the ‘rocky outcrop beside silver streams’ that Tolkien described in his books, Rex also tells us “the village took months to build, they were there filming for 3 weeks, then it was dismantled.”

So on we drove, past trout-filled lakes, through little country villages, over the Canterbury plains and glacial-formed braided rivers, passed tussock covered hills until we emerged in the ‘secret valley’; home of Mt. Sunday, 95 metres (over 600ft)  above sea-level and which was transformed into Edoras, capital city of the Rohan people for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

As dramatic music soars in the vehicle we are welcomed: “Welcome to the Kingdom of Rohan in Middle earth” – our guide makes it a momentous occasion. read the rest of the article here

web we stop for a coffee on the wayNote: Hassle-Free Tours ( ) also run Christchurch city tours, and an Alpine Safari which includes a jet boat, 4×4 vehicles and the TranzAlpine train so check their website for up-to-date information.

by the kiwitravelwriter,  Heather Hapeta

Off to Hanmer Springs for the day

want to bungy jump from here?


Track to top of Conical Hill
take a hike up Conical Hill
Conical Hill


one of the 360 degree views form the top of Conical Hill
Ti Kouka - NZs 'cabbage tree'
hamner springs PA287505 (50)
Hot mineral pools are a must do
hamner springs PA287505 (27)
post office long closed!